Thursday Thoughts and Controversial Subjects in Novels

**This blog post contains a sensitive conversation about miscarriage. If this is a topic delicate for you, please continue with caution. Thank you.

Happy Thursday!

I was going to write about this topic for a Monday blog post, but all of my Thursday posts are more personal, so I thought the topic at hand would be better suited for today. Monday I’ll be blogging about advertising, comp titles, comp authors, and categories, so come back for that!

But first, a quick update on where I am:

I’m waiting for the proofs, the regular print and the large print, of My Biggest Mistake to come in the mail.

Made with Canva on a Twitter post template and a free 3d mock up generator https://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-3d-book-cover-generator/ by Derek Murphy

I’ve already proofed one paperback, so these are just to make sure the changes look right. I’m still unsure when I’m going to publish, and if I do, the books will go on a preorder for no longer than a week. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur said a longer preorder if you’re in KU can hurt you, that goes along with what Mal Cooper said in the FB ads Zoom class I took with her earlier this month. Because we’re heading toward the holiday season, I’m not going to bother with releasing books until after the new year. There really isn’t a point, and Amazon is going to be bogged down soon enough with people Christmas shopping. This seems to always up the cost per click when running ads, so I think it’s better to just wait until January before I try to do anything. I have plenty to do in the meantime, and my box set of my Rocky Point Wedding series is up for pre-order until October eighth for .99. I took a few minutes to zoom in on their faces to adjust the covers per Amazon’s guidelines, trying to take away the “in bed” look so I can run ads. The one ad I tried for the box set was approved, so I’ll create a few more Amazon ads and maybe even do a Facebook ad just to practice with the platform. These are steamy, small-town holiday, so this would be the perfect time to push them.

If you want to hear the Dave Chesson interview where he talks all things Amazon with Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea on the Six Figure Authors podcast, here it is. He knows SO MUCH about Amazon, and it’s really helpful to store away these tips!


The one thing I wanted to talk about today is writing about controversial things in your novels. There was an interesting article in the Guardian about Sally Rooney and people thinking she’s a racist because of some of the things her characters say. All authors put a little bit of themselves into their characters, but any writer knows that characters take on a life as their own, especially as the book develops and we get to know them better and better. None of us would be very good writers if we couldn’t separate ourselves from the people we create, and all of our characters would sound the same because eventually they would all be us.

Humans have a dark side, and it stands to reason that characters can have a dark side, too. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have novels about serial killers and the investigators who solves the crimes, or vigilantes looking for their own justice, or even male characters who treat women like crap, and women who do the same, honestly. Humans aren’t perfect, and I believe adding that layer, those flaws, can make a character feel real.

Romances aren’t always roses and champagne, there’s usually a “big bad” that breaks up the couple 3/4 of the way through the book, and the “will they or won’t they” keeps readers hooked until the end. There wouldn’t be a big bad breakup if the characters were rosy and sunny and treated everyone else in their lives in a decent manner.

We can write about delicate situations like divorce and miscarriage, death from things like cancer or suicide, and we should write about those things because that’s life. So when I wrote a character who’s ex-girlfriend lost their baby, and while he was devastated, he was also relieved because it gave him the out he was looking for in their relationship, it gave me pause. No one should be happy a miscarriage happened, and Fox wasn’t happy. I tried to make that clear he wasn’t happy about it, and I didn’t want him to come across as an asshole because he was anything other than completely destroyed. In the book he was about to break up with her when she announced her pregnancy and after she miscarried, they did break up, she ending it before he reconciled with the loss.

It’s a hard conversation to have–in the book and in real life. When I was in college, I was depressed, suicidal, and I drank a lot. I slept around and at 21, I got pregnant. I miscarried, and while I was sad, I too, was relieved. I wasn’t ready to be a mom, I didn’t have the mental health I needed to be a good mom, and that miscarriage saved me. I drew on a lot of my feelings from that time and a lot of what Fox feels, I felt too. Can you find something good in something so tragic? Should you? Are you allowed to?

This worries me, not because of how I’m going to be perceived–I was practically a kid who made bad choices and somehow I was saved from having to pay for the choice of sleeping around without protection. Anyone who wants to judge me has the right to do so, and I don’t care. But I’m not a male hero of a romance novel, and I know readers have limits of how far they are willing to go to give a character space to be themselves. I’ve read lots of asshole male characters in the billionaire/mafia/dark romance subgenres (reviewers going so far as to call some of them rapists in dubious consent novels), and maybe I shouldn’t be nervous that Fox was anything other than human. When I talk aloud about it, I can see how maybe I could be turning a molehill into a mountain, on the other hand, readers can be unforgiving.

So what can I do short of rewriting it? I don’t want to rewrite because it’s my truth, and it’s also Fox’s truth. His ex’s miscarriage saved him from going down a path he didn’t want to go down, living a life he didn’t want to live, and I made sure that she got the help she needed–as did I–because grief is real, mourning is real, even if you can see the good in something terrible.

I’m not one for trigger warnings, but I will add one to this book. The conversations ARE controversial. Some women will have been in a situation where a miscarriage has gotten them out of a sticky situation, while others will have lost babies that were 100% completely wanted. I went on to have three more miscarriages between my son and daughter after I was married to their father, so I have felt both sides of grief.

I may also write an author’s note for the back of the book, explaining why Fox felt the way he did. I can’t try to appease every reader who may read Faking Forever, but I want to try to explain why I wrote him the way I did. Maybe Fox’s feelings would have found a better home in a women’s fiction novel (perhaps something more serious than a billionaire romance book? Though that discredits romance as a “real” genre) but in the novel I tried to explain that all our feelings have validation and that he has a right to feel that way (and he also admitted and learned from the fact he never should have gotten her pregnant in the first place).

Anyway, it’s a touchy subject, and I don’t normally go that deep with my writing. Do you write about controversial subjects? How do your readers respond?


There isn’t much else that I wanted to update you on–just a few Clubhouse rooms and free classes if you’re interested in taking a peek.

ProWritingAid is hosting a Romance Writer’s online Conference in October, and you can look at all the information here (this isn’t an affiliate link): https://prowritingaid.com/romanceweek?utm_campaign=Romance.

And here is the at-a–glance list of speakers. Bookmark the ones that you are most interested in. The lineup can seem demanding, but you don’t have to attend live.

Another writing conference I want to tell you about is on the app Clubhouse, hosted by The Author Conference the weekend of October 15 & 16.

Clubhouse is now available to anyone using either an iPhone or Android. Download the free app, and create your profile. Search the rooms for the Author Conference and follow the club. There is so much information available and it’s all free–anything from Amazon Ads with Janet Margo, to book launches with Pamella Kelley and others. This is such a great resource–and you never have to speak! I’ve been listening to rooms for months now and I still have never spoken to ask a question or add a comment.

Join the Clubhouse Authors Facebook group for more information!

I guess that’s all I have for today! I need to put in a few hours of editing the first book in my series. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Happy New Year! A quick update on my goals for 2020.

Happy New Year!

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Social media has been inundated with lists, lists, and more lists. I won’t bother with the best books I’ve read of the decade, or what all I’ve accomplished or not accomplished. I’m not going to bother ruminating about how 2019 was a dumpster fire in every way (actually, it wasn’t for me) or the million ways I’m going to make 2020 “my year.”

It’s silly to use January 1st to reinvent yourself. You are who you are, and a new date on the calendar won’t help. But that’s not to say I don’t have a few goals I’d like to tackle this year.

photo of a woman thinking

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

In past blog posts I’ve written about the slow sale of my books. It’s difficult to keep up your spirits when you work so hard for so little in return. But this year I’m going to take responsibility for some of that. Instead of being a trout fighting my way upstream, I need to stop resisting and go with the flow.

Part of that is realizing I’m not doing 100% of what I need to do to sell my books, and I have to admit that part of the reason is I’m scared. I don’t have faith in my Tower City trilogy. It’s the first three books I count in my contemporary backlist and somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that they are not good. Book one was chopped and diced to the point I probably should have written it over from the start. But the reviews indicate they’re pretty good, and I should get over the idea that they’re not. Sure, I may have gotten strong as a writer since I published them, but I have to stop thinking they’re bad books.

I have a few reviews of Don’t Run Away on Amazon, and I remember this is the first review from someone I didn’t know. It was a proud moment–there’s even a ToC in it now thanks to formatting with Vellum:

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I need to have faith in my ability and not be scared when people read my work.


I also need to start a newsletter. I’m not very active online. My unanswered notifications on Twitter are months old. I don’t update my Facebook author page, and all I post on Instagram are pictures of my cats. (As cute as they may be, they don’t sell my books, dammit!) I need a hub for my readers. Either a newsletter or an active reader group on Facebook where I’ll actually post something, probably both. I know I’m doing myself a disservice not having a newsletter. This means focusing my attention on readers and not spending time on Twitter or using Canva to make pretty Instagram posts the same 10 people will like over and over again.


This year I also want to do more networking in the romance/indie-publishing space. I’ve been writing and publishing for three and a half years. I’ve made a lot friends in that time, lost some too, and some of the writers I know have been in the same place they were three years ago. I’m constantly learning about the industry, always listening for the new thing, I like listening to podcasts and keeping up with industry news. I need to start chatting with like-minded people who understand the value in that. Who treat their writing like a business and put in their 20-40 hours of writing time a week. Writing is really lonely. You’re by yourself with a laptop for hours and hours at a time and I need to find peers who know what that’s like and still do it anyway.

group of people standing beside body of water

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

I like the phrase, “Never be the smartest person the room.” I also feel like lately I’m the only writer in the room, and it will be nice for that to change.


These aren’t life shattering revelations, but they’re what I need to focus on moving forward if I want to start selling the books I spend so much time writing.

It’s not a secret that these next few months are a little hard on me. Winter in Minnesota is long and dreary. It’s hard to want to go anywhere because the temperatures are horrible and the roads are constantly clogged with snow. It takes a lot of energy just to get through a day with no sunshine, and I need to focus on releasing my wedding series and appreciating the little things while I wait for warmer temps and the sun to come back.

I do have a selling/marketing summit in May that I’ll be attending with David in Nashville, and I’m looking forward to that. No matter how long winter seems, spring always comes back around.

Just keep moving forward the best you can, and better times will come.

Tell me your goals for 2020. How do you plan to move forward? Let me know!


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Cabin Fever and 8 things you can do to survive it

Cabin fever is gross. You’re squirrely, you want to go outside, you feel fat. In my case, I feel like I’m suffocating because I haven’t let fresh air into my apartment since December.

Even though March is right around the corner, and with that, hopefully spring, it’s hard to keep faith when you wake up to temperatures like this:

instagram temperatures

 

I posted this on my Instagram account this morning. When will we get better temps? Maybe in four to five weeks.

But who’s counting?

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What can you do to battle dreariness of cabin fever?

  1. Go outside anyway. If you’re living in a region where you wake up to this for four months out of the year, then you’re used to it. Get dressed, bundle up, and take a walk. Get some air, appreciate the snow, if you can. Remember how hot it will be in August. Throw out some seed for the birds, buy some peanuts and feed the squirrels still making the best of it. I took a walk the other day when temperatures were above 0, and it was nice.snow trail goosberry
  2. If you don’t want to go to outside, at least go out. Grab coffee with a friend, or let your kids run around the mall (if you have a decent sized one). Find a coffee shop and do some writing. Getting out, even if it’s cold, is better than staying inside and eating your way through a bag of Doritos.
  3. Speaking of junk food, eat better. Right now our produce is slowly starting to return to normal prices (Six dollars for a pint of strawberries? You gotta be out of your mind!) and fruit is starting to taste like fruit. Summer bodies are made in the winter. Start now, eat better, maybe go to the gym if you have a membership. I have a Planet Fitness not two blocks from me, but I don’t have a membership. I prefer to go outside when I can, but this prevents me from being able to workout regularly. I should buy a membership–it’s not like I don’t have podcasts to listen to while I’m on a treadmill. And ration out those Girl Scout cookies you bought last week from the girl down the street. Yes. I’m looking at you.
  4. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a shower.  Look, I get it. This time of year is horrible. I suffered from depression for a long time. With the issues I’ve had this winter, it’s easy for those feelings to come back. I’ve had surgery, I’ve dealt with a sick cat (cleaning up after her, and paying for the vet was HARD AND STRESSFUL), I have car problems. My husband isn’t around anymore (okay, that’s more of a plus, but still) and I’m alone, taking care of my two kids. My daughter’s school has been closed due to severe cold and blizzards and has had late starts, too, and both have interfered with my work schedule. All the snow this year has made me need to shovel more than ever before–Note to self: Never have carpal tunnel surgery in the winter. And yes, that has made me down. The lack of sun, the lack of fresh air, sometimes you just wanna cry. Cry–in the shower. Get dressed. Getting dressed can make a world of difference. Put some makeup on. I’m not talking about real depression here. If you need real help, then go get it. Thinking about hurting yourself is NEVER okay. Seasonal depression, cabin fever, situational depression, a down feeling you can have but will go away, that’s what I’m talking about.

    seasonal depression

    For more information about seasonal depression, click here.

    situational depression

    For more information on situational depression, click here.

    I have really bad situational/seasonal depression right now. But things will perk up. I just have to push through until they do.

  5. Never underestimate the power of family. Spending time with your family can help. If you’re feeling down, the first thought is always to distance yourself. If you have family around you, spend time with them. I just scheduled a dinner and movie night with my sister. It might be -10 below by the time the movie is over and even after its 3rd car appointment tomorrow morning, my car may still be leaking oil, but I’m getting out there.
  6. Make progress in some way. Keep chipping away at your work in progress. If you have a different hobby, work on that. Schedule little goals for yourself and don’t forget to reward yourself for doing them.
  7. Help someone on a deadline. If you can beta read, or grab and ARC for a review, maybe that can help keep you accountable. Someone else is counting on you. I just took an editing job. She needs me to get it done–and I will.
  8. Take your vitamins. I’m not a doctor, and anyone who takes meds needs to consult theirs before adding anything to their daily routine. I take adult gummies. The B vitamins lift my mood and the Vitamin D probably helps too.

All you can do is tough it out. Spring will come, in some parts of the world sooner than others. In Northern Minnesota, we probably won’t see a true rise in temperatures until early April. But I have a few things to look forward to between now and then, namely a new book release that I am anticipating very much. I’m also doing busy work with putting my books wide. I’m trying to stay busy, and I hope that it works. swimsuit quote

Find some things to brighten your spirits. Even if it’s just buying a new winter coat for next year–they’re all on clearance right now, right? Just avoid the new display of swimsuits, because nothing will make you feel worse than trying one of those torture contraptions on.


If you suffer from depression, seasonal or otherwise, please get help. If you’re reading this, please know I care about you and want you to take care of yourself!

If anyone needs:

The depression hotline number is 1-866-233-3459. They have a website that includes other resources, and you can find it here: https://www.psychguides.com/guides/depression-hotline/

The suicide prevention hotline number is: 1-800-273-8255 and their website is
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

book with daisies

 

Hang in there!

Let me know what you do to combat the cold and crazy cabin fever!

I’m still working my way through my series . . . .

jared and leah for end of blog posts